Another model makes its way west

One airliner model Midwest_Dornier_328.jpgthat may really be missed is the Dornier 328 jet, which is is about to lose its last remaining major US operator. The sprightly little twin, a jet-ified version of a turboprop developed by descendants of the original German air-framer and flying-boat maker, has a hard luck history, too small to compete with the smallest Embraers and too expensive to compete with the 50-seaters. Niche players such as Ozark and Great Plains, two failed regionals, tried it. Now comes word that Skyway, the regional subsidiary of Midwest Airlines, is being shut down. Midwest Air Group, the parent, is replacing its own subsidiary with 50-seaters operated for it under contract by SkyWest, the big and growing Utah-based regional.
SkyWest, one of the better managed US regionals and one of the largest, last year began operating some feeder flights for the carrier under the rubric Midwest Connect, the same trade name that Skyway had used. The flights link the Midwest hub at Milwaukee to place like Escanaba, Michigan, Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and Omaha, Nebraska. But it cost the same to operate the 50-seaters as it did to fly the 32-seaters, Skyway chief executive David Reeve said. So now the Skyway planes are up for sale and most of the Skyway workers are out of jobs, although some of them will stay on doing ground-service work for Midwest. The 328 has a roomy cabin, and a dozen single seats down the left side, which will lead some flyers to prefer it to the all-double seats in the Canadian planes that SkyWest flies.

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